PSU football players continue annual tradition with virtual visit to children's hospital

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Quarterback Sean Clifford was among the Penn State players to make a virtual visit to a children's hospital on Tuesday.

Penn State football players Sean Clifford, Pat Freiermuth, Fred Hansard, Tariq Castro-Fields, Aeneas Hawkins, PJ Mustipher and head coach James Franklin would not let the coronavirus pandemic keep them from visiting pediatric patients at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital on Tuesday.

The visit, which has been done annually in person since July 2014, was done virtually over Facebook Live, Periscope, and Twitter.

While previous visits included games, coloring, and hugs, the fun was still brought to Sawyer, Devin and Owen virtually through charades, silly questions and virtual hugs.

“I think that this is obviously one of the most important days of the year for everybody involved,” Clifford said. “We get to play this game that we love, and I think the best way to do it is through giving back to as many people as possible, and I think that that’s one of the things that we can do with this hospital visit. I think it’s great that we’re doing this virtual visit since we can’t do it in person.”

Additional children were visited by other football players in private Zoom calls, according to a press release from Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

To the team, the opportunity to interact with the kids goes beyond football and offers a “different perspective on life,” said Freiermuth.

Interacting with the children allows them to build bonds and get to know the men who they see play at Beaver Stadium in the fall. The event is a way to give back to the community and a “phenomenal” part of Penn State football’s program, Franklin said.

“This was something that we were committed to doing, and I think it’s turned out to be better than probably anybody expected,” Franklin said. “I know the hospital’s been appreciative of our partnership with them. I know our staff and players really, really value it as well. It’s been great.”

He added: “At the end of the day, we understand how important winning is at Penn State, but we also know the value of making an impact in your community, and when we go to that hospital and we can pour our hearts and souls into those kids and hopefully put a smile on their faces for a couple of hours, you can’t put a price on that.”

Clifford named to Davey O'Brien Award watch list: Clifford was one of 30 quarterbacks in NCAA Division I football named to The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch list released Tuesday.

The award is presented annually by the Davey O’Brien Foundation to the nation’s best college quarterback. It is the oldest national quarterback award, having first been presented in 1981.

Former Penn State quarterbacks Todd Blackledge (1982) and Kerry Collins (1994) are past winners of the award.

Clifford has appeared in 16 games for Penn State and owns 12 starts. In 2019, he was selected honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Clifford, a junior, finished the season with 2,654 total passing yards, and his 25 career touchdowns tie him for 13th all-time at Penn State.

Sixteen semifinalists will be selected Nov. 10, and the three finalists will be named Nov. 24. The Davey O’Brien Award winner will be announced Dec. 10 during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.

No positive tests: As of July 10, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has reported that it has conducted a total of 178 COVID-19 tests of student-athletes as part of its return to campus protocol, with zero positive tests and 31 pending tests.